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Uzbek Rights Campaigner Hospitalized After Attack

Miraziz Bazarov arrives at the hospital in Tashkent on March 28.
Miraziz Bazarov arrives at the hospital in Tashkent on March 28.

TASHKENT -- Uzbek rights activist Miraziz Bazarov has been hospitalized after he was attacked by unknown men hours after his public event was disrupted by dozens of aggressive men in Tashkent.

Physicians at the Tashkent Traumatology Hospital told RFE/RL on March 29 that the 29-year-old blogger, known for his criticism of the government and support for decriminalizing same-sex relations, sustained multiple injuries to his internal organs and legs, including an open fracture of the left leg and a concussion, adding that he was brought to the medical institution the previous night.

According to the doctors, Bazarov's situation was very serious and he will be moved to another hospital, where he may need to undergo brain surgery.

One of Bazarov's neighbors, who said he witnessed the assault, told RFE/RL that the blogger was attacked in the evening on March 28 near his apartment block by three masked men, one of whom had a baseball bat.

According to the witness, the attack lasted only about three minutes.

The director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch (HRW), Hugh Williamson, condemned the attack, calling it "totally awful."

"Uzbekistan has committed at UN Human Rights Council this month -- in theory -- to uphold int’l human rights standards. It should do so!" Williamson tweeted on March 28.

WATCH: Uzbek Rights Campaigner And Government Critic Severely Beaten

Uzbek Rights Campaigner And Government Critic Severely Beaten
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Daniel Rosenblum, the U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan, also expressed concern over Bazarov's beating, calling it "disturbing."

"I urge the [government] of Uzbekistan to investigate the beating of blogger Miraziz Bazarov, who exercised his #FreedomofExpression in support of the LGBTI community," Rosenblum tweeted on March 29.

Earlier on March 28, Bazarov told journalists that a weekly public event for fans of Japanese anime and Korean pop music, which he organizes each Sunday, had been disrupted by dozens of aggressive men who chanted "Allah Akbar!" or "God is great."

Bazarov is known for his criticism of the Uzbek government on his Telegram channel.

The Reporters Without Borders journalism watchdog called on the Uzbek government "to assess the threats [Bazarov] received and to shed light on this intolerable attack!"

Among other issues, Bazarov has also publicly urged the government to decriminalize same-sex sexual conduct, which remains to be legally considered as a crime in Uzbekistan.

Bazarov has openly said he is not an LGBT activisor t, but believes that being gay is a personal issue and therefore no laws should consider it a crime.

Last week, HRW said in a statement that gay men in Uzbekistan face arbitrary detention, prosecution, and imprisonment and called on Tashkent to guarantee lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights and decriminalize same-sex sexual conduct.

Bazarov also criticized President Shavkat Mirziyoev for insufficient anti-corruption efforts, and questioned the efficiency of ongoing restrictions to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Last summer, Bazarov was questioned by State Security Service investigators after he called on the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank on Facebook not to provide loans to Uzbekistan without strict control over how the funds are used.

Bazarov earlier told RFE/RL that in recent weeks he had received many online threats, of which he had informed the police, but they had not taken any action.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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